Bahraini Elections Cause Increased Sectarian Hostility The Bahraini Shiâ€™ite majority took to the streets after yesterdayâ€™s elections, where the Sunni-led government are expected to further cement their political domination. MOSCOW, November 23 (Sputnik) â€” Bahrainâ€™s legislative elections have renewed sectarian tensions between the Sunni political leadership and Shiâ€™ite majority of the population, who boycotted yesterdayâ€™s polling, dubbed it a â€œfarceâ€, demanded more democracy and accused the authorities of voter fraud. Thousands of Shiâ€™ite Bahrainis took to the streets Sunday as they feel neglected under the nationâ€™s Sunni-dominated political system. The vote-counting is still in progress; however, the official turnout numbers claimed by the electoral commission triggered an outrage among the Shiâ€™ite Muslims. According to the electoral commissionâ€™s numbers, voter turnout was 51.5%, while the Shiâ€™ite opposition claims only 30% of eligible voters came to the polling stations. "Turnout for the legislative elections was 51.5 percentâ€¦ (and this result) puts an end to confessionalism in Bahrain," Sheikh Khaled Al-Khalifa, head of electoral commission, said yesterday, referring to the oppositionâ€™s boycott of the elections, as reported by AFP. The Bahraini Shiâ€™ite community constitutes roughly 65 to 75 per cent the nationâ€™s Muslim population. They boycotted yesterdayâ€™s elections over constituency changes, allegedly favoring Sunni voters loyal to the ruling family, according to Reuters. Bahrainâ€™s Sunnis and Shiâ€™ites also exchanged accusations of fraudulent actions during the polling. The opposition says tens of thousands of people were forced to cast their vote, while the Sunni authorities allege Shiâ€™ite militants blockaded polling stations, preventing people from voting. The sectarian standoff has continued in Bahrain since February 2011, when Arab Spring-inspired Shiâ€™ite protests were suppressed by the Sunni-led government. The Shiâ€™ite majority has long been reported as being politically and economically marginalized, a claim the government rejects. Bahrain, an oil-producing Gulf nation and also a major international financial hub best known as center for Islamic banking, is a key US ally in the region and home to the US Fifth fleet. Al-Wefaq, the most prominent Shiâ€™ite opposition entity, warned that in case the Sunni political â€œmonopolyâ€ is not eased, the nation may face an outburst of violence. The Sunni-led authorities are "trying to fool public opinion and ignore the large election boycott by announcing exaggerated figures," Al-Wefaq said early Sunday. In the current election 419 candidates were running for office, 266 for parliament and 153 for municipal legislatures. Al-Wefaq previously said that the recent change in constituencies "divides society according to sectarian and racial lines". In some locations, yesterdayâ€™s elections were marred by violent clashes. In the Shiâ€™ite village of Sanabes, west of Manama, there was a skirmish between local youths and security forces during voting, AFP reports. Standoffs between Shiâ€™ites and police have been reported from other communities as well, and in some places roads were blocked by burning tires, scattered stones and concrete blocks to prevent voters from reaching polling stations. "In some areas the roads were blocked by the opposition to prevent people from voting but the police dealt with the matter and opened the roadsâ€¦" the executive director of the elections, Abdulla bin Hassan al-Buainain said as quoted by Reuters. Al-Wefaq held 18 out of 40 seats in the nationâ€™s parliament after the 2010 election, but it withdrew its MPs after the Shiâ€™ite street demonstrations were dispersed by the authorities in 2011. A dialogue of â€˜national reconciliationâ€™ was launched in early 2014 in order to overcome the sectarian tensions exacerbated by the 2011 events, but the current clashes seem to have effectively put an end to the talks. No data of the electionsâ€™ results have been announced yet, which yields an opportunity to stave off the escalation of the street violence in case the Shiâ€™ite opposition has gained a significant presence in parliament and municipalities. Bahraini Elections Cause Increased Sectarian Hostility / Sputnik International [hr][/hr] Bahrain Goes to Polls for First Time Since Arab Spring Protests Bahrain is holding elections on Saturday for the first time since Arab Spring protests broke out in 2011; few Shi'ite groups have boycotted the vote. MOSCOW, November 22 (Sputnik) â€“ Residents of Bahrain are going to the polls on Saturday for their first parliamentary and municipal elections since Arab Spring protests shook the country in 2011, the BBC reported. Out of 419 candidates, 266 are running for parliamentary seats, while the remaining 153 are competing for municipal council elections, according to Reuters. The elections are unlikely to resolve the political turmoil in Bahrain. The country is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, while the majority of the population is Shiâ€™ite. Although the countryâ€™s political factions were invited to participate in Saturdayâ€™s elections, Shiâ€™ite groups have boycotted the vote, Reuters said. â€œThese elections are destined to fail because the government is incapable of addressing the political crisis,â€ said Abdul-Jalil Khalil, a member of al-Wefaq, the main opposition in Bahrain that is boycotting the elections, as quoted by the BBC. Bahrain has been ruled by a Sunni dynasty since 1783. The Shias represent about 70 percent of the countryâ€™s population. The Shia opposition groups demand greater rights and a larger say in government. Al-Wefaq has been calling for a constitutional monarchy, with an elected prime minister independent from the royal family, Aljazeera said. Bahrain Goes to Polls for First Time Since Arab Spring Protests / Sputnik International ========= Another spring...no summer yet!!!